When the season changes, it’s time to assess your wardrobe and buy to fill the gaps.
It’s now spring and as I gingerly peel off the layers of winter woollies, my thoughts are turning to how I want to look this season.
This is not – as every year – very much to do with fashion. What may work on the catwalk doesn’t work for my life of wellies and dog-walking, and by the time you’re 40 you’d better know what suits you in any case. I know that I like practical, comfortable clothes that don’t need much maintenance; lowish heels (2.5in) or flats; fitted, hourglass-shaped clothing with stretch etc. And I like to just pull on two or three things and go, without any dicking about.
This year, I’ve decided to think very carefully about colour, and since I bought only one new thing last year – a taupe print dress from Boden – I feel justified in having a few new things too. They will only be new to me, of course, as they are all second-hand from Ebay – most of them cost about 99p.
This season I’m going to seriously focus on blue to match my eye colour. This idea is an old image consultant’s tip and it really works. If you wear tops, necklaces, earrings etc in your eye colour, it makes your eyes really pop and over time, I intend to have more and more blue in my wardrobe. My eyes are blue-grey but virtually any soft shade of blue works, from ice blue to sky blue to cornflower to darkest denim, and veering off into turquoise shades as long as they’re on the blue rather than the green side.
Complementary colours I’ve decided on are blonde (my hair colour – another image consultant trick), white, cream, primrose yellow (a good complement to blue) and the nude shades of flesh through to pale pink. And tiny flashes of red, as this is a colour that blue is often teamed with. What won’t be on the menu is khaki (normally one of my staples) or strong, bright colours such as lime green, mustard, chrome yellow, magenta or purple – my colouring is too subdued to look good in these.
In a more radical step, I’ve also decided to eliminate black and dark brown entirely from my wardrobe this summer. Partly this is because I’ve been living in brown and black all winter and I’m longing for a change – and if these clothes are out on view, it’s all too easy to end up wearing them. So at the weekend, into the flatpacks went all my dark clothes, not to be seen again until autumn (if this experiment works).
The next step, then, was to assess what I already had and work out what I needed to buy in order to fill the gaps.
I already have a cornflower blue tiered skirt and three dresses in sky blue and forget-me-not blue, but they are all linen and only suitable for really hot weather – I didn’t wear them at all last year. I don’t need any new tees, as I have half a dozen long-sleeved blue t-shirts and several strappy vest tops, as well as several blue-striped cotton and denim shirts. But I am parlous for medium-weight clothing such as denim, brushed cotton or chino fabric.
I fixed on three new cardis (I no longer buy jumpers as they’re not flexible enough), three new skirts, a dress and a couple of pairs of sandals. This will do me for at least a year and a lot longer if I buy right.
I love denim as it’s practical, the twill weave needs no ironing, and it will go with everything – cotton cardis, cashmere polos, aran sweaters, you name it. It was strange, then, to realise how little of it I had left, having dropped a couple of dress sizes over the years.
The two blue skirts shown are from Ebay – the paler one is Laura Ashley and the darker one is Per Una from Marks and Spencer. These are both brands I trust, which is important when you can’t see the actual garment (the Per Una one arrived yesterday and it’s a gorgeous, clingy fishtail shape, so I’m very pleased). Then I treated myself to the coral linen skirt (below) from Boden simply because of its irresistible print (I am trying to be bolder with prints, as I tend to avoid them). It ties in with the blue colourway, and I already have cream, taupe and coral cardigans to go with it.
The plain cornflower-blue cotton cardigan (top left) is from Cherokee, a surprisingly good label from Tesco supermarkets. The casual zip-up style (a flattering vertical line) will go perfectly with all three skirts as well as with jeans and my existing Laura Ashley chino skirt.
Again deciding that some pattern was necessary, I then bought two more cardis – the blue and white one is ramie and very similar to a jade and cream one I once had, which I wore until it literally fell apart. The softer, more muted one in blue and brown is from Next. Again, both go with either of the new denim skirts, as well as chinos, taupe trousers, etc, that I already own.
Then I bought a denim dress that can be worn by itself on warm days or will go over a t-shirt or under a jacket. Last year I really missed my old denim button-down dress, which I gave to a pregnant friend, so it will be nice to have one again – living the life I do, I’ll probably get almost more wear out of this than anything else.
Once all that was sorted, I sat down over the weekend and made myself some casual necklaces from turquoise and blue beads – shell, agates, pearls, turquoise from China, ceramic, glass, wood and you name it: each necklace has a slightly different length, texture and mood so they can be worn together or separately.
In the sewing room are several lengths of fabric: sky blue chambray, sky-blue cotton with polka dots or white stripes; vintage blue cotton with a fine red check; heavy, embroidered grey-blue linen etc, even the most gorgeous Solbiati linen (just a remnant, but enough for a scarf). These, I’ll turn into half a dozen bias-cut skirts and panelled button-down dresses.
My last purchases are these sandals, to go with my navy Crocs (fine for round the house, but not hugely flattering if anyone’s going to actually SEE me). A friend who, like me, wears orthotics recommended Fly-Flots last year, and these blue suede ones look a pretty good combination of orthopaedic design and fashion. The others are a just a plain rubber mule for days when I have chafed heels (I’ve learned my summer lessons the hard way) but should suit both my running around lifestyle and Normandy’s cobbled streets.
Sorted, I hope, for the summer…